|149251. Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:15 am
|“We went to Wood’s, our old house, for clubbing.” (Pepys’ diary, July 1660).
But it was in the 18th century that the club scene in London really went wild. Everyone who was anyone was a member of a club.
Clubs generally met weekly, in a tavern; eating, singing and debating were the essential activities.
Some notable 18th century London clubs:
Kit-Kat Club, Shire Lane - its members were leading Whigs.
Robin Hood Club, Butcher Row - masons, smiths, etc. Each member was allowed to speak for five minutes.
Beefsteak Club, Covent Garden - “devoted to drinking and wit interspersed with snatches of song and much personal abuse.”
Twopenny Club - a poor man’s club where one of the rules was “If any neighbour swears or curses, his neighbour may give him a kick upon the shins.”
The House of Lords, based at the Three Herrings in Bell Yard - “the more dissolute sort of barristers, attorneys and tradesmen.”
The No-Nose Club (no further details).
The Farting Club, in Cripplegate, met “once a Week to poyson the Neighbourhood, and with their Noisy Crepitations attempt to outfart one another.”
The Surly Club, Billingsgate, where tradesmen met to “sharpen the practice of contradiction and of foul language.”
The Spit-farthing Club, Bishopsgate, composed of misers and skinflints.
The Club of Broken Shopkeepers, Southwark, for bankrupts.
The Mock Heroes Club, “where each member would assume the name of a defunct hero.”
The Lying Club, Westminster, where members were banned from uttering any true word.
The Man-Killing Club - membership barred to anyone “who had not killed his man.”
The Humdrum Club - “gentlemen of peaceable dispositions, who were satisfied to meet at a tavern, smoke their pipes and say nothing till midnight.”
The Everlasting Club - which sat in permanent session, twenty-four hours of every day, on a shift system, “no person presuming to rise until he was relieved by his appointed successor.”
There were various “spouter clubs” for people who fancied themselves as public speakers.
“Chair clubs” combined “obscene songs and egalitarian speeches in equal measure.”
Cock and hen clubs were for youths and prostitutes.
Source: London The Biography by Peter Ackroyd.